Unconventional natural gas is expected to satisfy more than half of U.S. demand by 2030, moderating the need for liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports in the short term, ExxonMobil Corp. said Tuesday.

In its "Outlook for Energy: A View to 2030," the supermajor predicted that natural gas demand in the United States and Europe will dip in the near term because of the recession and then grow "modestly" at an average rate of 0.8% a year through 2030. Asia-Pacific gas demand will grow "much more rapidly, at almost 4% per year, with demand more than doubling over the outlook period," the report said.

Describing the latest forecast, CEO Rex Tillerson said ExxonMobil sees "many hopeful things -- economic recovery and growth, improved living standards and a reduction in poverty, and promising new energy technologies.

"But we also see a tremendous challenge: how to meet the world's energy needs while also reducing the impact of energy use on the environment."

ExxonMobil is forecasting that global energy demand in 2030 will be almost 35% higher than in 2005, even accounting for the recession. Other key findings include:

"Our energy and environmental challenges are intertwined and their scale is enormous," said Tillerson.

To meet future energy needs while also reducing environmental risks "will require an integrated set of solutions" that include accelerating energy efficiency to temper demand and save emissions; expanding all economic energy sources, including natural gas and oil; and mitigating emissions through new technologies and "cleaner" fuels that include natural gas and nuclear.

ExxonMobil reported that in Europe, local natural gas production is continuing to decline, which will drive imports to about 70% in 2030 from 45% in 2005.

"This shift will require growth in pipeline imports from Russia and Caspian countries as well as LNG," the report noted. "In Asia Pacific, domestic natural gas production -- unconventional in particular -- continues to climb, but at a slower pace than demand. As a result, Asia Pacific will need to rely more heavily on gas imports, especially LNG, which will meet more than one-third of the region's demand in 2030."

Because most carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gas emissions are "energy-related, any integrated approach to meeting the world's growing energy needs over the coming decades must incorporate strategies to curb emissions and address the risk of climate change," said the report.

"The outlook for energy-related CO2 emissions is linked directly to the types and amounts of energy required around the world," said ExxonMobil. "By 2030, global CO2 emissions are likely to be about 25% higher than they were in 2005. While this is a significant increase, it is substantially lower than the projected growth in energy demand over the period.

"This positive development is the result of expected gains in efficiency, as well as a shift over time to a significantly less carbon-intensive energy mix -- mainly natural gas, nuclear and wind gaining share as fuels for power generation."

The "most significant single use of natural" gas is as a fuel to make electricity, the report noted. "The world's need for electricity -- and the fuels used to produce it -- will grow substantially over the coming decades. Natural gas can help meet this growing need for electricity."

The 42-page report is available at www.exxonmobil.com.

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